|Saw 3 (2006)
Starring: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Angus Macfayden, Dina Meyer, Bahar Soomekh
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Sweet Jesus. “Hostel” has just killed the “Saw” franchise. What began two years ago with a grisly thriller has turned into a sadistic death trap that has completely lost its moral center. To their credit, the makers of “Saw III” are fully aware of this loss of morals, to the point where they worked it into the plot. But you can’t have it both ways, guys. If you want to torture people, then torture people. But don’t pretend to be above such things when all is said and done, while wallowing in it in the meantime.
The movie begins right where “Saw II” leaves off, with Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) chained to the same pipe as “Saw” victim Adam. After watching Matthews deal with his dilemma in a most unpleasant way, we cut to the remains of Jigsaw’s latest victim, which leads to something that I will not spoil except to say it disappointed me greatly. We then see Lynn (Bahar Soomekh), a brain surgeon, get abducted by sole Jigsaw survivor – and poster child for Stockholm Syndrome – Amanda (Shawnee Smith) to take care of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), who’s now on death’s door. Jigsaw plays a game with Lynn, the goal of which is for her to keep Jigsaw alive long enough for Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), who wakes up in a box in an undisclosed location, to complete a game of his own, where he will be forced to come to terms with his vengeful nature. If both succeed, then another, even greater game begins.
How far we’ve come from what began as a disturbing fable about embracing life. The rationale behind targeting Jigsaw’s latest “game players” is flimsy to say the least, and the flashbacks, of which there are many, act more as filler than enlightening back story (the same goes for the time spent on Lynn’s medieval doctoring of Jigsaw). The ending, of course, is what you would expect from a “Saw” movie, but it is also the single biggest house of cards you’ve ever seen. It assumes that there is only one outcome when there are in fact an infinite number of possibilities. It also leans egregiously on the screenwriting cliché that if one simple sentence can resolve a misunderstanding, then for God’s sake, keep your mouth shut. If the finale were executed over and over again using real people, it would never, ever turn out like it does here.
The bottom line is this, people: “Hostel” is not a role model. It is not to be admired, respected, duplicated or topped. It is a morally bankrupt, reprehensible little movie, and the fact that its success urged the makers of the “Saw” movies to embrace their methods not only undoes “Saw III” but provides a sad commentary on what passes for entertainment in our culture. Congratulations, “Hostel” fans. You gave life to a franchise that didn’t deserve one, and you killed another, far superior franchise at the same time. Hang your heads in shame.
Director's Cut DVD Review:
Continuing the tradition of releasing a two-disc director’s cut of the last chapter in preparation for the new one, Lionsgate has released a special edition of “Saw III” that delivers three solid commentary tracks and a new cut of the film. The commentaries – featuring 1) director Darren Lynn Bousman and J LaRose, 2) stars Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith, and 3) writer Leigh Whannell – are easily the best part of the two-disc set, but that’s about where the fun ends. Bousman offers some great insight on his track about “Saw IV” (which will definitely get fans chomping at the bit), but the entire second disc is completely wasted on stupid shit like a trivia game (“Jigsaw’s Plan”), a how-to featurette on make-up FX (“Looking Tortured”), and brief commentary on the trilogy’s many death traps (“Choose the Death”). Also included is a sneak peak of the new film, but you probably won’t want to watch it if you plan on retaining any sort of excitement about its release. Yes, it’s that bad.